Crime and other social vices in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have been on the rise. Many residents are voicing their experiences.
Lack or low paying job, has forced some families to relocate to areas that lack amenities and seem not habitation- friendly.
Such places are believed to have affected the health of inhabitants but seen not to be good enough for raising children.
Abattoir in Karu is, arguably, one of such places. It is a slaughterhouse for different types of animals. It is also a place for livestock business. There are three other recognised abattoirs in Abuja, at Deidei, Kubwa and Gwagwalada.
Ideally, abattoir ought to be a place where meat consumers and traders gather for legitimate business either on livestock or raw meat for home consumption or commercial use.
The stench from raw meat, animal remains and rising smoke that saturate the airspace draw attention of passers by at the Karu abattoir. Every morning, branded vehicles converge there for business. Those who cannot physically visit the location demand for home services from a specialised team of dispatch riders.
Operators of the abattoir are mostly single young men, with few married men whose wives are, obviously, at different locations. Such arrangements opened the door for commercial sex workers to make brisk business.
It has also become a big threat to neighbouring households, as they battle hard to protect their children especially the female ones from being “misused” or “abused” by the operators, especially when they act on influence of drugs or other hard substances.
Karu abattoir has taken a unique position in not only offering its primary services to customers but has also become a melting pot for different kinds of people, some of whom have criminal records.
There are claims that most of the abattoir operators act under strong influence of drug. Those who peddle these claims insist that they need to be under such influence so as to be in an emotion state of mind to come down hard on the animals with their sharp knives.
They have mastered the act of deafening their ears to cries of animals, while they slit their throats, thus putting an end to their lives.
Surprisingly, women are deeply engaged in the meat business. They take raw meat from point of slaughter to retailers who are already waiting at different locations within the vicinity.
An official of the abattoir identified as Isiyaka, confirmed that consumption of codeine and other hard drugs is one of the challenges of the meat market. He was unhappy that a section of the market has been taken over by drug addicts including women, and it gets worse at night in spite of several police interventions.
He said: “The level of drugs and other hard substances being consumed in the abattoir is huge. At night, the entire atmosphere is saturated with smoke of Indian hemp. Even the recently banned codeine and other drugs are being sold in the open.
“Prostitutes complete the circle. They converge from neighbouring communities to service the sexual needs of the young men. Officials of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and police visit the market unannounced and make some arrests. But that have not stopped the situation.
“Several individuals, religious and other non governmental organizations have held enlightenment classes in the market to educate the people on the negative effects of drug consumption to their health, but it all went to deaf ears as people return to their vomit shortly after each class.”
Some house owners around the abattoir decried the high level of crime in the neighbourhood. They attributed it to high intake of drugs and other hard substances by young men and women in the market.
An official of Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) who lives within the vicinity said the level of drug consumption and other hard substances are alarming, far beyond the thought of the state officials: “If not that I live in my own house, I would have packed out of that vicinity. It is a horrible environment to live and train children. I am conscious of my children. I keep eyes on them always. They hardly go out of the gate. I was forced to send two of them to boarding school just to keep them away from the house
“Another reason was that FRSC has staff quarters few metres away from my house. I always join the staff bus to work everyday. But in spite of that, I am considering selling my house and move out. That place is absolutely unhealthy for child up bringing.
“Many houses around have become empty because the tenants couldn’t afford to see their children fall into the hands of bad people there.”
Another resident, Ezekiel (surname withheld) said he came down hard on one of his sons when he discovered that he was being “too friendly” to one of the people there: “Our compound is adjacent to the abattoir and it’s not fenced. Each time I am out of the house, I always mandate my wife or anyone else, to stay behind and watch over the kids to avoid being abused by the abattoir operators.”
A former resident, Kenneth Osondu, said he was forced to terminate his rent and pack out of the neighborhood because he has been robbed twice at night whenreturning home. “I had to relocate to Jikwoyi for safety,” he said.
Another former resident, Juliet Ikah said: “I work in a hotel in town. I go out very early when I am on morning duty and return late when I am afternoon duty. I have been harassed several times, and dispossessed of my belongings. My house has also been burgled twice. I was left with the only option of relocation.”
She said the military checkpoint there could not change the situation.
Head of Public Health, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Dr. Karnak Dandam, confirmed the rise in crime and other social vices in the abattoir. He attributed it to activities of some persons from outside the abattoir who take advantage of the porosity of the market to commit crime:
“Each time state authorities come to raid the market, they quickly jump to the other side. We have raised the fence now as part of measures to discourage their entry.” In addition, he said they have began to register all butchers, their families and other people working with them so they could be easily identified and traced in case of any crime:
“Initially, the butchers and their workers resisted the move. But we had to enforce the law and it recorded great success. It has helped us to monitor the activities of the people and apprehend them in case of any crime. FCTA will continue to champion any cause that will improve hygiene, safety of workers and customers and neighbouring communities.”